"Housekeeping still remains the most important business in the world." "Each woman faces it singlehandedly.""She must know clothes, how to buy and how to make them." "She must face death to bring children into the world." Her relationship to her husband: "she must stir his ambition; pull him through failure; and keep success from hurting him."
Young male McCall's editor dictates a piece to his secretary about the role of the editor and his magazine in the world.
McCall's serial (fiction) is brought to life: The women of the house plot to land a young doctor as husband for one of them.
Women fight over dinner. African-American domestic worker philosophizes over the doings of the household.
Subject: Living Pages is dead
Subject: It's lean times!
Subject: Housekeeping--the Greatest Occupation?
Neysa McMein is the film's most interesting character. McMein was a successful woman illustrator who was a member of the Algonquin Round table. She died in 1949, but her work wasn't honored by the Society of Illustrators until 1986. McMein and her model, financially independent women working outside of the home, present an image of women more compelling than the sentimentalized housewives concocted by McCall's.
This film seems to be incomplete, and it does not help that it meanders. It starts off with the male narrator defining what makes the perfect housewife; concerns about food, shopping, etiquiette, and child rearing. The idealized lives of the upper middle class housewife are shown, and it is throught the pages of McCall's that life was pushed.
Then the typically male editor drones tonelessly about what the magazine means to women. Even though he supposedly dictating a letter, still uses a giant mockup of the magazine to show it's "three magazines in one." He then cuts to the long time cover illustrator Neysa McMein working in her studio. McCall's was notable as one the first places that American female artists and illustrators could find work. McMein and Rose O'Neil (creator of the Kewpie doll) both did a lot of work of the magazine in the 1920s and 1930s.
The narrator then returns and talks about how the magazine also has serialized fiction, I suppose to fulfill the culture the narrator boasted earlier. We are then presented for the rest of the run time a very banal romance, with stiff dialogue and equal acting. Indictive of the level of the story, the last part if the matron of the household talking with a African-American housekeeper in full "mammy" mode philosophizing the foibles of the other characters.
It is at this point that the film ends with no summing or wrapping up, so there might be a second reel lost in the mist somewhere. Even thenm it's hard to figure out what the purpose of this film is. Was it a promo for the magazine to the general public? Was it like "In The Suburbs", an appeal to advertisers? With nothing to tie it all up, one cannot be sure.
Subject: Yes And?